Maryada Purushottam
"Wherever four Hindus live, Rama and Sita will be there" so said Swami Vivekananda, one of the foremost harbingers of modern national renaissance of Bharat. The reverse also is equally true - wherever Rama and Sita live, the people there will remain and live as Hindus.

Every hill and rivulet of Bharat bears the imprint of the holy feet of Rama and Sita. Sri Rama reigns supreme to this day in the hearts of our people, cutting across all barriers of province, language, caste or sect. Even the tribes living in isolated valleys and jungles have names like Mitti-Ram and Patthar-Ram. In some other tribes, every name carries the proud suffix of Ram, such as Lutthu Ram, Jagadev Ram, etc. In many northern parts of Bharat mutual greetings take the form of Jay Ramjee Ki.

Sri Rama has become so much identified with all the good and great and virile qualities of heroic manhood that expressions such as 'Us me Ram nahi hai' (there is no Rama in him) - meaning that a person has lost all manliness and worth - have become common usage. And when a Hindu quits the world stage, he is bid God-speed in his onward journey with Ramanama satya hai or Raghupati Raghava raja Ram, patita paavana Sita Ram. In fact, the latter couplet has become the nation's bhajan par excellence.

Sri Rama's story, Ramayana, has been sung and resung in all the languages and dialects of Bharat. The tradition of writing epics centering round the saga of Rama's achievements started by Valmiki in Sanskrit and was continued by Tulsidas in Hindi, by Kamban in Tamil, by Ramanujan in Malayalam, by Krittivasa in Bengali and Madhav Kambali in Assamia and in fact, in almost every Bharatiya language. The tradition is being continued up to the present day.

The various tribal groups too have sung the story of Ramayana in their dialects. Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Janaki mirror the ideals for millions of tribal boys and girls. The Khamati tribe in Arunachal Pradesh, which is Buddhist, depicts Ramayana as the story narrated by Buddha to his first disciple, Ananda, and carries the universal message of Buddha. How deeply significant that every group and sect even in distant and far-flung parts of Bharatavarsha should have found a radiant reflection of its own ideals in the form of Sri Rama!

The comparison of Sri Rama's fortitude to Himalayas and the grace and grandeur of his personality to the ocean - 'Samudra iva gaambheerye, dhairye cha Himavaan iva' - portrays how inseparably his personality has been blended into the entire national entity of Bharat. Where in lay the secret of this unique greatness in Rama's personality? He is called Maryaada-Purushottama - the great one who never deviated from the norms set by Dharma. In the eyes of the Hindu, the touchstone of human excellence is Dharma.

Devotion to Dharma came first in Rama's life and considerations of his personal joys and sorrows came last. It was his supreme commitment to putra-dharma (duty of a son) that made Rama smilingly depart to the forest for fourteen years at the bidding of his father. And this he did on the very day he was to be anointed as the future emperor of Bharat. He would not budge from the path of Dharma - righteousness - even when his own preceptor, his parents, his brothers and the whole body of his subjects tried to dissuade him. He upheld the supremacy of Dharma in every one of his human relationships and hence became an ideal son, an ideal brother, an ideal husband, an ideal disciple, an ideal friend, an ideal kind and even an ideal foe.
The one and supreme concern of Sri Rama's life was the welfare of his subjects. He would forsake everything else to uphold his kingly duties - the Rajadharma. The night previous to his scheduled coronation, when Rama and Sita were alone in a happy mood in view of the next day's joyous occasion, Sita asked Rama, "What is that thing which holds dearest to your heart?" Rama fell serious for a moment and said, "Dear Sita, you know I love you most dearly, but I love the subjects of Ayodhya more and if their welfare demands, I would not hesitate to sacrifice even you!"

And Sri Rama did live up to his words. When he felt that the call of his royal duties - Rajadharma - demanded the forsaking of Sita, he wavered not in carrying it out. The most crucial test came when Lakshmana violated the orders of Rama and admitted Durvasa to Rama's presence with a view to averting the destruction of Ayodhya by Durvasa's curse. Rama stuck to the law of the land and awarded death penalty to Lakshmana - one whom he loved dearer than his own life. It was with such a fiery faith that Rama followed the dictates of Dharma.

To such a one, how could power and pelf hold any fascination? When Bharata came to him in the forest and implored him to return to Ayodhya and become the emperor, Sri Rama firmly refused. Here was enacted a scene unparalleled in the annals of world history - each of the two brothers trying to out-argue the other to make him accept the emperorship of a great and mighty kingdom.
Sri Rama's role as one of the first and foremost national unifiers of Bharat is also unique and extraordinary. He embraced Guha, the forest King and ate in his house without the least hesitation. No sense of high or low ever touched his all-embracing love of his people. He even enjoyed a fruit tasted and offered with devotion by Shabari, a tribal lady in the far south.

The Vanaras or the forest-dwellers too felt that Rama was their own. He endeared himself to them so intimately that they became, in fact, his chief allies against Ravana. All over Bharatavarsha, the dear, little squirrel with its three brown stripes bespeaks the devotion to Sri Rama even among the animal world. Along with the Vanaras, a solitary squirrel had played his humble part in carrying sand for the construction of bridge to Lanka and Sri Rama's caressing of the little one on the back had left those indelible stripes for all future generations.
Sri Rama's intense adoration for the motherland has been immortalized by a legendary couplet which is playing on the lips of millions even to this day: "Janani janmabhoomischa swargaadapi garreyasi" (the mother and the motherland are to me greater than the heavens themselves).

Valmiki praised the way Sri Rama spoke to people. The way Valmiki described him showed Sri Rama was the best PR Man. The best company would have hired him as a Public Relations Officer with the highest pay. Why? He was Srutha Bhashi, Hitha Bhashi, Mitha Bhashi and Purva Bhashi according the Adi Kavi Valmiki.

Srutha Bhashi: Rama always spoke truth
Hitha Bhashi: He spoke whatever was pleasant to hear.
Mitha Bhashi: He spoke very little.
Purva Bhashi: He did not wait for others to open a dialogue. He opened the conversation.

Many a times we speak the truth and get caught in a trap. Why? Though we spoke truth, it was bitter. Rama would have passed the message in the gentlest way with the kindest words. That is why Valmiki called him a Srutha Bhashi and Hitha Bhashi.
When people attend weddings or birthday parties they often wait for others to come and talk to them. Their arrogance and ego stop them going up to others, who they consider their rivals, to enquire about their welfare. They pretend to look at other people and wait for their 'rivals' to approach them. When they go home they boast to their friends that they snubbed those arrogant rivals. The other people would probably have told their friends the same thing. But look at Rama. He was the son of a great emperor and crown prince of a kingdom. He went up to people and voluntarily spoke to them and enquired about their welfare. He was called a Purva Bhashi.

Mitha Bhashi: Many people suffer from verbal diarrhoea. They can never stop blabbering. We meet them with their mobile phones on 24/7 - on the bus, in the office and of course, at our political meetings! Rama spoke only very little, but made everyone happy. When he met a hunter Guha he declared him as the fifth brother. When Ravana lost all his weapons in the final phase of the war he told him: "Go home today. Come back tomorrow" and gave him a last chance for survival. These words were meaningful and powerful.

The story of Rama is not that of a single towering personality dwarfing all others. The other characters like Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata and Hanuman too shine in their own greatness. All of them are so closely interwoven with Sri Rama's life and achievements that it is well-nigh impossible to think of anyone without the other. In fact, the most popular picture of Sri Rama, i.e., of Sri Rama Pattabhisheka includes Sita, Hanuman and all his brothers. And in the bringing out of the greatness of all these partners of his life-drama, Rama's instinctive recognition of their merit and virtues played no mean part. He would always be the first to openly appreciate the unique and noble traits in others' character. Even for Kaikeyi, who was responsible for his banishment to forest, Rama had only words of kindness. And as for Ravana, the abductor of his wife, Rama's unstinted praise of his erudition and prowess at once lifts the story of Ramayana to heights unsurpassed in the annals of human history.
No wonder, the birth of' Sri Rama is celebrated in all lands. Rama had deed, word and thought, body, speech and mind, ever pure and totally free from blemish. Really speaking, one ought to revere the story of Rama as a profound allegory. Every act and actor in that story attracts attention and gets imprinted on the memory because the allegory is personal to each of us.

For example, consider Dasaratha, the Ten Chariot King? He represents the human body with the five senses of perception and the five sense-organs of action. He has three wives---the three Gunas or dispositions, Satwa, Rajas and Tamas---named Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. He has four sons, who embody in themselves the four goals of human life, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Rama is the very embodiment of Dharma (Morality, Virtue, Right conduct). The other three goals can be achieved only by steady adherence to Dharma. We find, therefore, the brothers Lakshmana, Bharatha and Satrughna following the footsteps of Rama.

Rama had mustered so much spiritual strength through his consistent observance of Dharma, that he could wield and bend the mighty bow named Sivadhanus. That was the proof of the Jivi (the individual) having overcome delusion. Janaka, the Ruler of Videha, had the bow in his custody. He was on the lookout for a hero who had mastered the fatal flaw.

The next stage in the career of Rama finds him in the thick jungle of life. The jungle was infested with attractions and aversions. The Supreme Wisdom cannot co-exist with duality. It insists on the renunciation of both aspects. Rama pursued the golden deer, which Sita longed to possess. Brahma Jnana disappeared as a consequence of this lapse. Rama (the representative jivi) had to undergo many spiritual austerities to regain the Supreme Enlightenment.

He reached, according to the story, the Rsyamuka peak, the abode of total detachment. There he secured two allies, Sugriva (Discrimination) and Hanuman (Courage). The alliance was sealed by an act of service from Rama, which indicated his loyalty to Dharma under all conditions. He slew Vali, the vicious victim of wickedness. Vali had dethroned his father, forced him-to take refuge in the jungles, associated with Ravana, of evil fame, and ill-treated his brother Sugriva for no reason at all. Vali succumbed so low, because of the company he preferred to be in.

Rama installed Viveka on the throne of Vali. With his allies, he entered on the quest for the Wisdom that he had lost. He found across his path a wide ocean of Moha (delusion). His ally, Hanuman (Courage) had a vision, unclouded by desire or ignorance. His only desire was fixed on the Name of Rama and the Form of Rama. So he was able to leap across the ocean, smooth and safe.

Rama reached the other shore. He slew Ravana (the embodiment of the Rajasic, passionate, impulsive, possessive traits) and his brother, Kumbhakarna (the embodiment of the Tamasic, the dull, the self-destructive, the lethargic, traits). Rama recovered Sita (Brahma Jnana) now confirmed by striving and struggling, and more convincingly precious as a result of constant meditation. And, Rama returned with her to Ayodhya (the impregnable city, the Source and Spring of Wisdom). The consummation of the soul's journey is the Coronation, the Maha Pattabhishekam.
This is the Ramayana which needs to be gone through, during the life of every aspirant. The heart is the Ayodhya. Dasaratha is the body, the Gunas are the consorts, the Purusharthas are the sons, Sita is Wisdom. Attempt and attain this Realisation by purifying the three tools--body, speech and mind. The recitation of Ramayan verses or listening to the exposition of those verses must transform the person into an embodiment of Dharma. His every word, thought and deed must exemplify that ideal. Sraddha (steady faith) in Rama, Ramayana and oneself is essential for success to become good and help others to unfold their goodness. To be totally human with every human value expanded to the utmost and promote those traits in society to help others too.

- October 11
- December 09

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